‘Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio’ receives world stage premiere in Cincinnati

Credit: Joel C Ryan

Credit: Joel C Ryan

Cincinnati Opera wraps its 2024 Summer Festival July 18-27 with the world stage premiere of “Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio” at Cincinnati’s Music Hall.

This classical piece featuring music and lyrics by Paul McCartney and Carl Davis was commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society in honor of its 150th anniversary and premiered in 1991. The story tells the semi-autobiographical account of a young man named Shanty, who is born during World War II and grows up in Liverpool. The piece follows his struggles and joys while exploring themes of childhood, school days, love, war, and reconciliation.

“McCartney’s melodic pop sensibility is evident alongside stunning classical orchestration, resulting in an accessible yet intricate musical work,” stated Cincinnati Opera in press materials.

Cincinnati Opera’s production of “Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio” will be the work’s first-ever operatic staging, featuring all new sets, costumes, lighting, staging, and choreography. The production also incorporates a 48-voice chorus, dancers from the Cincinnati Ballet, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets start at $36. Performances are 7:30 p.m. July 18, 20 and 25 and 3 p.m. July 21 and 27 and will be held in Music Hall’s Springer Auditorium, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati. For tickets or more information, call 513-241-2742 or visit cincinnatiopera.org/liverpool-oratorio.

In a letter to the company, McCartney said, “I am writing to express my wholehearted support for this project. I believe that the Cincinnati Opera is uniquely positioned to bring this work to life in a new way, and I have no doubt that your production will be an inspiring experience for all who see it.”

The public is encouraged to join in the effort to invite McCartney to attend this event by creating tribute videos, sharing them on social media, and tagging @cincinnatiopera and #GetPaulToMusicHall. For more information on the regional campaign, “Come Together, Cincy! Get Paul to Music Hall!,” visit GetPaulToMusicHall.org.

Dayton Performing Arts Alliance spotlights young regional talent in spring competitions

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance hosted three regional competitions for students this spring: the High School Vocal Competition; the Tri-State College Vocal Competition; and the David L. Pierson Annual Young Musicians’ Concerto Competition. The three competitions awarded winners nearly $10,000 in cash prizes to further their studies in music.

The High School Vocal Competition was established in 1973 by the Opera Guild of Dayton to award scholarships to outstanding young vocalists. The annual competition is open to high school juniors or seniors who reside in the state of Ohio. This year, students performed repertoire from the operatic, art song, and musical theatre canons for a panel of judges that included: Dayton Opera Artistic Director and Dr. Ron Anderson and Robb Sloan-Anderson Chair, Kathleen Clawson; University of Dayton Assistant Professor of Music Performance, Dr. Ryu-Kyung Kim; and vocal instructor Jarrod Davis. The competition was chaired by Dr. David Sievers, a full-time lecturer in Voice in the Department of Music at UD. Pianists John Benjamin, Bret Blasius, Emily McConkie, and Theresa Gorretta accompanied the young competitors.

Lucy Dennis of Yellow Springs received first-place for her performance of Robert Schumann’s “Widmung” and Amy Beach’s “The Years in the Spring.” Second place went to Gavin Poronsky from Tipp City. Jalal Lewis of Dayton took third. Honorable mention went to Phoenix Carter of Dayton.



In 1989, the Opera Guild of Dayton established the Tri-State College Vocal Competition. Initially open to Ohio residents aged 18–23, the competition later expanded to include residents of Indiana and Kentucky. The 2024 finalists performed operatic arias before a panel comprised of: Kathleen Clawson; opera star Stuart Skelton (tenor); and vocal coach Catherine Keen. Kenneth B. Shaw, University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music (CCM) Vocal Professor, chaired the competition, and operatic soprano Alexandra Schoeny and UD Assistant Professor of Voice, Dr. Andrea Chenoweth Wells, completed the preliminary judging. Pianist Jeffrey Powell accompanied the performers.

Each finalist performed two arias: they sang an opening piece before judges selected a work for them from a list of options. Bass-baritone Sam Dhobhany earned the first-place prize with “Claggart’s Aria” from Benjamin Britten’s “Billy Budd “and “Non più andrai” from W.A. Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Dhobhany recently graduated from CCM with a degree in Vocal Performance. Mezzo-soprano Veronica Siebert of Indiana University Bloomington took second, while mezzo-soprano Maya McGuire of CCM was awarded the third-place prize.

DPAA’s David L. Pierson Annual Young Musicians’ Concerto Competition was established by the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteers Association to identify outstanding talented musicians in the greater Dayton area, encourage young musicians to pursue further study, and stimulate competition among area musicians. Dayton Philharmonic Artistic Director Neal Gittleman, violinist Kara Camfield and clarinetist John Kurokawa adjudicated the competition, which is open to orchestral performers in grades 10–12.

Winners of the Young Musicians’ Concerto Competition included clarinetist Will Hemmelgarn of New Bremen, who won the first-place prize with a performance of Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet, Op. 26. In addition to a cash prize, Hemmelgarn will perform onstage with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra at the “Young People’s Concert: Pure Imagination,” a learning program that takes place on Oct. 30.

Pianist Isabella Fiers of Germantown earned second-place, and violinist Kieran Niska of Mason won the third-place prize. The judges also honored two additional students: Finalist Harrison Cash (cello) of Monroe and Amy Juhascik (bassoon) of Bellbrook, who received Honorable Mention.

For more information, visit daytonperformingarts.org.

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